File this under questionable

  • Published in Editorials

As our hardworking unified union school board representatives work their way through unifying and becoming trustees of all students in our district versus representatives of their own towns, there’s a lot of chaff blowing around with the wheat.

Here’s some chaff: Superintendent Brigid Nease stated at a September 27 public meeting that she has a right to seek out legal counsel with the board’s attorney and can do so without the board directing her to do so. Further she said that the results of that consultation can be kept private due to her attorney-client privilege.

How does that work financially? The board directs the superintendent and central office on how to spend money on behalf of the taxpayers. If our tax dollars are spent on legal advice, the benefits of which must fall to the superintendent (versus the board or students) due to her attorney client privilege, how are taxpayers being served?

How are taxpayers able to give permission – through their elected officials – for money to be spent in their names? Because the HUUSD 2017-18 includes a legal budget, is that carte blanche for the superintendent to use it without board direction?

Shouldn’t any attorney-client privileged advice accrue to the board if the superintendent’s consult was on behalf of something that is the board’s responsibility? How can the superintendent use our tax dollars without voters, via their elected officials, giving her the authority to do so?

More chaff: Pietro Lynn, school board attorney, crafted a convoluted reason justifying the board’s May 24 executive session which several board members feel was illegal because it focused on board conduct.

Lynn asserts that the Open Meeting Law allows for closed-door discussion of employment or evaluation of a public officer or employee and then goes on to assert that board member conduct can be discussed in executive session because board members are public officers.

That’s wrong. Board members cannot hire and fire and evaluate each other. Nor can they discipline each other, as Lynn asserts.

Only voters can hire and fire board members through the process of voting.

There’s a lot of legitimate hard work going on and it’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff.